Stem cell-based technologies have the potential to help cure a number of cell degenerative diseases. Combinatorial and high throughput screening techniques could provide tools to control and manipulate the self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells. This review chronicles historic and recent progress in the stem cell field involving both pluripotent and multipotent cells, and it highlights relevant cellular signal transduction pathways. This review further describes screens using libraries of soluble, small-molecule ligands, and arrays of molecules immobilized onto surfaces while proposing future trends in similar studies. It is hoped that by reviewing both the stem cell and the relevant high throughput screening literature, this paper can act as a resource to the combinatorial science community.